Though the terrorist attack on American Center on January 22, 2009, shook the city and kidnappings of business honchos grab newspaper headlines every now and then, people in the city have not opted for guards with firearms for their security. Whether at high rises or at housing complex entrance gates, unarmed guards or those armed with lathis can be seen, who often become sitting ducks during emergencies.
“Guards with firearms do not have much demand in Kolkata. Only a few big companies employ them. Barely 5% of our total strength of security guards possesses firearms,” said Debojit Choudhury, owner of NIS.
The demand for guards with firearms is among banks and agencies that refill cash at ATMs. Few big corporate houses, especially those in the real estate sector, hire security guards who can handle weapons.
Prominent city businessmen have started hiring these guards for their personal security recently. “We have a corporate client that hires around 150 security guards a day from us. Recently the company has hired a firearm-armed guard, who has been engaged as the bodyguard for the owner of the company,’ said Rahul Mridha, director of Red Security, a security agency.
Security guard agencies prefer former army personnel as guards since they know how to handle weapons. The relevant Act regarding use of firearms does not allow the agencies to procure licence and buy weapons in the names of the owners or other employees and provide the same to security guards.
“It is mandatory for the guard to have his own licence. We prefer army men because it is easier for them to obtain licence and we are sure that they can use arms. Even the client feels more secure if we engage a former army personnel for them,” added Choudhury.